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Poland leases Reaper UAS as interim unmanned ISR solution

An image of a Reaper with Polish markings accompanied the leasing announcement by Mariusz Błaszczak, deputy prime minister and defence minister. (Ministry of National Defence via Twitter)

Poland is to lease a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper as an interim solution until it can field its own national medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) capability.

Mariusz Błaszczak, the country's deputy prime minister and defence minister, made the disclosure on 21 October, announcing on his official Twitter account that the Reaper is being leased as “a bridging solution” for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR).

“Another investment in the security of Poland. We have signed a lease agreement for [the Polish Armed Forces] for the MQ-9A Reaper unmanned reconnaissance system. It's a bridging solution. We will use it until we acquire our own unmanned reconnaissance system,” he said, illustrating his message with an image of Reaper serial number N508HK with Polish Air Force markings.

Błaszczak did not disclose how many Reaper systems or air vehicles Poland is leasing, or for how long.

Poland is looking to boost its unmanned aircraft capabilities, with currently only the tactical Neox system in service with the air force. Having recently signed for 24 Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs)from Turkey, with deliveries scheduled to begin later in 2022, the Ministry of National Defence (MND) has another higher level requirement under its Zefir programme.

As earlier revealed by the MND, the Zefir programme is expected to see four systems of three aircraft each being procured. The Reaper is one of two systems known to be under consideration for Zefir, with the other being the Elbit Hermes 900 from Israel.

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